December 09, 2004

Holiday Cards: A trip down memory lane

I just returned from mailing off our holiday cards, all 93 of them. It took us a long two nights to write messages to everyone, stuff, seal, and stamp. It was a companionable time, though, and I kind of enjoyed just sitting at the kitchen table with my wife and listening to her gentle (sometimes, not so gentle) profanity as she tore an envelope here or put the wrong card in the wrong envelope there.

Otherwise, I was a bit alone with my thoughts as we scribbled away. It was fun to realize that on these sheets of labels, I had a sort of chronological roadmap to my life.

The oldest friend rang in at 35 years, which is a long time but especially when you consider we are each only 37. That is a friendship I take great pleasure in.

After that, people sort of popped up onto the list from the Summer I spent in China, some 20 years ago, and friends I made in France, some almost 15 years ago, and friends I made in England, over 10 years ago when I lived and worked there.

Business acquaintances made it on the list, but only because I liked them, not because I needed to send them a card. In other words, they became friends through business but are not on the list because I do business with them.

Friends from University and from Law School are there. Friends from New Orleans are there. Former neighbors from our old co-op in the City are on the list. I used to be the Vice President of that Board and still have lots of friends there.

Family, all over the world, are on the list, for sure. My wife got to write any of the Norwegian cards herself.

Friends I've made through volunteer work and through various other outside activities made their way onto the list.

All in all, a most satisfactory tour of my past and my present.

Until we consider the deletions. Judaism teaches that the sweet is always mixed with the sour. I suppose that makes sense, there is very little joy that is unalloyed in the world and you might not even be able to fully appreciate the nuances of the happiness without a sprinkling of the sad.

Some were deleted from our list because cards don't get sent to the deceased. They don't have a mantle for them anymore, anyway. The old in our family are dying and the new generation is beginning to fill in for them as the generational odometer ticks over.

Some fell off the list because of desuetude. The friendships withered as people lost the habit of staying in touch. Actually, one card went to just such a person in the hope that it might rekindle the friendship. If not, oh, well, we have enough friends who we don't get to see as it is.

It was a good trip, this little trip of ours down memory lane. The only real snag was running out of cards!

Posted by Random Penseur at December 9, 2004 09:54 AM

I always enjoy your reflections on your life and relationships, RP. They are always thoughtful, touching, amusing, and poignant. Thanks for being so eloquently human!

Posted by: GrammarQueen at December 9, 2004 09:58 AM

It IS fun doing cards together isn't it? :-)

We're supposed to do ours tonight, unless life gets in the way again as it's been wont to do recently.

93! How wonderful! Good for you. Our list is barely 30 or so.

Posted by: Amber at December 9, 2004 11:45 AM

sounds like a wonderful way to spend a few evenings.
was there hot chocolate involved?

Posted by: standing naked at December 9, 2004 11:58 AM

How nice! I used to enjoy sending out holiday greetings, and using it as a way to keep in touch, however slightly, with all the loved ones you rarely speak with.
I miss that. Maybe I'll start again next year.

Posted by: Mick at December 9, 2004 03:12 PM

No hot chocolate! But it was fun, y'all. Our only problem is that we are on something like an every other year schedule with these things. I wish we were better at it.

Posted by: RP at December 10, 2004 08:11 AM

Holy cow! I can't even get my save-the-date cards addressed and sent out *sigh* I am envious.

Posted by: Mandalei at December 10, 2004 09:18 AM

You're a better person that I am! All of my cards got a "Love, Helen" message on them and got winged into the mailbox.

Posted by: Helen at December 11, 2004 04:03 AM
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